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Thursday, November 21, 2019

2019 Iran Military Power Report from the Defense Intelligence Agency

2019 Iran Military Power Report

Link to a pdf version of the report here.

From the Preface:
Throughout its 40-year history, the Islamic Republic of Iran has remained implacably opposed to the United States, our presence in the Middle East, and our support to Israel. While attempting to strengthen its deterrence against foreign attack and influence, Tehran has committed itself to becoming the dominant power in the turbulent and strategic Middle East. Its ambitions and identity as a largely Persian Shia power in a region composed of primarily Arab Sunni states often put it at odds with its neighbors, most of
which look to the United States and the West to guarantee their security.

Iran sees itself as closer than ever to achieving its goals. Tehran has played the cards dealt it by the fall of Saddam, the uprising in Syria, the rise and retreat of ISIS, and the conflict in Yemen. It leads a cohesive if informal bloc of Shia and Alawi state and nonstate actors—its “Axis of Resistance” against the West. Meanwhile, a perception that the United States is disinterested and disengaged pervades the region.

By applying a rigorous lessons-learned process during decades of conflict in the Middle East, Iran has adapted its military capabilities and doctrine to account for developments by the United States and its allies. Although still technologically inferior to most of its competitors, the Iranian military has progressed
substantially over the past few decades.

To achieve its goals, Iran continues to rely on its unconventional warfare elements and asymmetric capabilities— intended to exploit the perceived weaknesses of a superior adversary—to provide deterrence and project power. This combination of lethal conventional capabilities and proxy forces poses a persistent threat. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force leads Iranian power projection through a complex network of state and nonstate partners and militant proxies. Iran’s conventional military emphasizes niche capabilities and guerilla style tactics against its technologically advanced adversaries. Its substantial arsenal of ballistic missiles is designed to overwhelm U.S. forces and our partners in the region. Its swarms of small boats, large inventory of naval mines, and arsenal of antiship missiles can severely disrupt maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz—a strategic chokepoint critical to global trade. Each of these forces are becoming increasingly survivable, precise, and responsive.

In more recent years, with the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, Iran has taken nascent steps toward developing a limited expeditionary capability. Iran’s conventional forces are now in the regional power projection game as well. At the same time, modern conventional capabilities will be open to Iran for the first time since the revolution, as the UN arms embargo is scheduled to end by October 2020. With these opportunities, we could begin to see significant changes in Iranian strategy and capabilities, as Iran becomes a more traditional military force.

As Tehran expands its capabilities and role as both an unconventional and conventional threat in the Middle East, it is more important than ever that we understand Iran’s military power and the threat it poses to our interests, our allies, and our own security.

2019 China Military Power Report from the Defense Intelligence Agency

Link to PDF of the report here.

From the Preface:
The Defense Intelligence Agency—indeed the broader U.S. Intelligence Community—is continually asked, "What do we need to know about China?" What is China’s vision of the world and its role in it? What are Beijing’s strategic intentions and what are the implications for Washington? How are the PLA’s roles and missions changing as it becomes a more capable military force?

Since Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution in October 1949 brought the Chinese Communist Party to power, China has struggled to identify and align itself with its desired place in the world. Early factional struggles for control of party leadership, decades of negotiations to define territorial boundaries, and continued claims to territories not yet recovered have at times seemed at odds with the self-described nature of the Chinese as peace-loving and oriented only toward their own defense. Chinese leaders historically have been willing to use military force against threats to their regime, whether foreign or domestic, at times preemptively. Lack of significant involvement in military operations during the last several decades has led to a sense of insecurity within the PLA as it seeks to modernize into a great power military.

Still, the United States has at times found itself in direct conflict with China or Chinese forces. China supported two major conflicts in Asia after the Second World War, introducing Chinese volunteer forces in Korea and providing direct Chinese air and air defense support to Hanoi in Vietnam. In addition, China fought border skirmishes with the Soviet Union, India, and a unified Vietnam. In all three cases, military action was an integral part of Chinese diplomatic negotiations. Since then, China has concluded negotiations for most of its land borders (India and Bhutan being the outliers) but remains in contention with Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam over maritime borders, which may in part explain motivation for the PLA Navy’s impressive growth and the new emphasis on maritime law enforcement capabilities.

China’s double-digit economic growth has slowed recently, but it served to fund several successive defense modernization Five-Year Plans. As international concern over Beijing's human rights policies stymied the PLA’s search for ever more sophisticated technologies, China shifted funds and efforts to acquiring technology by any means available. Domestic laws forced foreign partners of Chinese-based joint ventures to release their technology in exchange for entry into China’s lucrative market, and China has used other means to secure needed technology and expertise. The result of this multifaceted approach to technology acquisition is a PLA on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world. In some areas, it already leads the world.

Chinese leaders characterize China’s long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving great power status. Indeed, China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region. As it continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation’s leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests. With a deeper understanding of the military might behind Chinese economic and diplomatic efforts, we can provide our own national political, economic, and military leaders the widest range of options for choosing when to counter, when to encourage, and when to join with China in actions around the world.

This report offers insights into the modernization of Chinese military power as it reforms from a defensive, inflexible ground-based force charged with domestic and peripheral security responsibilities to a joint, highly agile, expeditionary, and power-projecting arm of Chinese foreign policy that engages in military diplomacy and operations across the globe.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

China Seeks Range Extender for Anti-Ship Missile

Reported as China accidentally reveals top secret new weapon
H-6K variant with cruise missiles (credit Alert 5)
A centrefold graphic recently flourished intimate details of a Chinese bomber carrying a stark new weapon. State-controlled media has since gone into cover-up mode. But military analysts think Beijing may have been caught with its pants down. The government produced Modern Ships magazine has splashed high-resolution computer-generated images of China’s most recent addition to its strategic bomber line-up – the H-6N – over the front and feature pages. But that’s not what drew the eye of the world’s defence thinkers. The graphics showed the new bomber carrying a huge ballistic missile slung under its fuselage. And that missile looks a lot like one of a family of ballistic weapons deployed by China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) as aircraft carrier killers.
I have my doubts that this was "accidental" - thinking it's more of a psyop, but it does raise some ideas to counter such weapons - ideas that our parents and grandparents (oh, hell, maybe even our great grandparents) thought up way back when in the fun days of the Cold War.

As seen in the photo above, the Chinese already have the potential to extend their cruise missile range by use of the same H-6 platform. So what does the potential to add the "ship killer" ballistic missile mean? As the article quoted above notes, it has the potential to add more range to this "carrier killer" anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).

So, what do you do to counter a relatively slow moving bomber that flies out to launch a big ASBM? You do what we used to do against the kamikaze planes of the Japanese in WWII and the Soviet threat in the Cold War - you station "pickets" of various kinds to detect and report activity that might threaten your forces. In WWII, it was "radar picket destroyers." During the Cold War we had radar picket submarines
By this time, the Cold War with the Soviet Union was in full swing, and air defense of U.S. carrier battle groups on potential strike missions near the Russian landmass generated a requirement for even more submarine radar pickets. Eventually, six more World War II submarines - all Manitowac-built USS Gato (SS-212)-class boats - were chosen for the more drastic MIGRAINE III SSR conversion. Because experience had shown that even the newer SSR configurations were seriously cramped, the final MIGRAINE design
called for cutting the boats in two and inserting a 24-foot "plug" to get additional room for an expanded CIC and electronic spaces forward of the main control room. Even so, the MIGRAINE IIIs also had to sacrifice their after torpedo tubes for more berthing space, but they were fitted with a larger, streamlined sail, with the BPS-2 search radar mounted aft of the periscopes and other masts. An AN/BPS-3 height-finder radar on a pedestal just behind the sail and an AN/URN-3 TACAN beacon on the afterdeck completed the installation. The six MIGRAINE III boats - USSs Pompon (SSR-267), Rasher (SSR-269), Raton (SSR-270), Ray (SSR-271), Redfin (SSR-272), and Rock (SSR-274) - were all converted at the Philadelphia Navy Yard between 1951 and 1953 - giving the Navy a total of ten radar picket submarines to face the growing Soviet threat just as the Korean War was drawing to a close.
There were also radar picket ships of the Guardian class:
The AGRs were based on both coasts at Newport, Rhode Island (later Davisville, Rhode Island) and Treasure Island, California near San Francisco, eight on the East Coast and eight on the West Coast. They would spend 30–45 days at sea regardless of weather, alternating with 15 days in port, monitoring aircraft approaching the United States as an extension of the Distant Early Warning line under the Continental Air Defense Command. Their primary duty was to warn of a surprise Soviet bomber attack. The AGRs were augmented by twelve radar picket destroyer escorts of the Edsall and John C. Butler classes, known as DERs, and Lockheed WV-2 Warning Star aircraft. The DERs and WV-2s were called Barrier Forces, BarLant and BarPac, and operated much further from the US than the AGRs. By 1965, the development of over-the-horizon radar had superseded their function, and the radar picket ships were decommissioned and scrapped by the early 1970s.
Now we already have "over the horizon radar", including the "big ball on a oil platform" - SBX-1 (pdf) and a bunch of other stuff to look for missiles, which is exactly what the H-6N is - with a slow launch phase (under 600 knots) followed by a more rapid phase after the booster on the missile engages.

These are modern times. We have Aegis ships, anti-ballistic missile missiles, and satellites that monitor such things.

Let's suppose we decide for a "belt and suspenders" approach that some additional pickets might be a good idea - could we use long lingering UAVs akin to the solar power NASA Pathfinder to keep an eye on things? Of
NASA Pathfinder
course we could, in fact, the idea has already been looked at:
In 1993, after ten years in storage, the aircraft was brought back to flight status for a brief mission by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO). With the addition of small solar arrays, five low-altitude checkout flights were flown under the BMDO program at NASA Dryden in the fall of 1993 and early 1994 on a combination of solar and battery power.
No much in new thinking under the sun.

U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Corwin M. Colbert)
From the surface of the sea side, there is little reason why unmanned platforms, now being developed for anti-submarine warfare, Sea Hunter cannot also be adapted for use as radar pickets, perhaps with passive sensor characteristics.

The point to all this being that the threat of aircraft launched ASMs or even ASBMs is not a sea change, but merely a logical follow on weapon for a country as geographically limited as is China. And that we've seen threats like this before and found ways to limit them.

Everything old is new again.

As an aside, the U.S. played with Air Launched Ballistic Missiles in the past (1974), see

Monday, November 18, 2019

Report "Saudi-led coalition says Yemen's Houthis hijacked vessel south of Red Sea"

Reuters reports Saudi-led coalition says Yemen's Houthis hijacked vessel south of Red Sea
The Saudi-led military coalition engaged in Yemen said on Monday that the Iran-aligned Houthi movement had hijacked a vessel towing a South Korean drilling rig south of the Red Sea, the state Saudi Press Agency reported.

It quoted coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki as saying the vessel was seized late on Sunday by armed members of the Houthi group. He did not say how many crew members were on board the seized ship.
Interesting. I guess the Houthi goal is further disruption of Red Sea transits.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 10 October 2019 - 13 November 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 7 to 13 November 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

On Midrats 17 November 2019 - Episode 515: Building a Thinking Force: the Navy’s CLO, John Kroger

Please join us at 5pm(EST) on 17 November 2019 for Midrats Episode 515: Building a Thinking Force: the Navy’s CLO, John Kroger
A byproduct of the April 2018 memo from Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly,
the newly created position of CLO is described as, “A senior civilian with educational leadership experience headquartered in the Pentagon, with a small supporting staff transferred from extant Navy and Marine education management billets, responsible to the President, Naval University for all matters related to education in policy, budgets, promotion board precepts. Congressional interaction, future requirements, and assessments.”

The Navy's first Chief Learning Officer (CLO) John Kroger will join us for the full hour to describe his mandate, the path ahead, and the opportunities and challenges of building a position from scratch.

John served as an enlisted Marine between 1983 and 1986. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard University. After college, he spent a significant part of his career in the public sector, as a U.S. Department of Justice prosecutor and Attorney General of Oregon from 2009 to 2012.

Kroger’s academic experience includes working as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and Leader in Residence at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. For the past six years, Kroger was president of Reed College, a small liberal arts college in Portland, Ore.
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Friday Film: WWII "Women in Defense"

Written by Eleanor Roosevelt and narrated by Katherine Hepburn

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Happy Birthday, USMC!

Happy Birthday, USMC! Glad your are at our side and have been for 244 years!

Old radio - "Uncommon Valor"-

Admiral Nimitz on the fight for Iwo Jima:
By their victory, the 3rd, 4th and 5th Marine Divisions and other units of the Fifth Amphibious Corps have made an accounting to their country which only history will be able to value fully. Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Laugh of the Day: Beijing pledges ‘long term peace’ in South China Sea

From the Chinese Alibaba owned South China Sea Morning Post come this howlerBeijing pledges ‘long term peace’ in South China Sea where its Asean neighbours also stake claims:
China is hopeful for “new progress” to be made in ongoing talks with the Asean bloc for a code of conduct governing the disputed South China Sea, Premier Li Keqiang said at a summit on Sunday, as other regional leaders called for countries to exercise restraint over the row.
Li’s comments at the twice-yearly Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting comes amid flaring tensions between Vietnam and Beijing over the dispute triggered by a Chinese oil survey vessel that remained within waters claimed by the Southeast Asian country for more than three months.
“We stand ready to work with Asean countries building on the existing foundation and basis to strive for new progress in the [code of conduct], according to the three-year time frame, so as to maintain and uphold long term peace in the South China Sea,” Li said at the start of a plenary session with the 10 Asean leaders.
This bit of double talk - after all, which country is the one stirring up tension with its neighbors with excessive claims to rights that violate the other countries territorial and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) - was reported by the SCMP with the accompanying map:
You might notice that China's famous "9 dash line" encroaches on the sovereign waters of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and judging by the SCMP map, the Japanese Senkaku Islands. You might also note that the SCMP map leaves off the EEZs of the Philippines and Malaysia and Japan. For those, we need another map, this one from the Voice of America :
Or perhaps this one from the American Center for Democracy:
Recall that the claims of all parties, are in part, based on assertions of ownership of various islands or rocks in the SCS. China also bases its claims on a theory of historical usage. China claims were rejected by an international tribunal. As with so much else that is modern, China disavows that ruling:
China said it did not recognize the ruling, which it described as "null and void." The case was brought by the Philippines over China’s vast territorial claims and island-building in the region.

The ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, is the first to address competing claims and interests among a half-dozen countries fronting the South China Sea.

The panel said any historic rights to resources that China may have had were invalid if they are incompatible with exclusive economic zones established under a United Nations treaty.

The tribunal also ruled that China caused “irreparable harm” to the marine environment, “unlawfully” interfered with fishermen from the Philippines, and engaged in a massive land-reclamation and island-building campaign that is “incompatible” with international obligations.
In fact, Mr. Li has been pretty belligerent:
China is committed to peace but cannot give up “even one inch” of territory that the country’s ancestors left behind, Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday during his first visit to Beijing.

Xi’s remarks underscored deep-rooted areas of tension in Sino-U.S. ties, particularly over what the Pentagon views as China’s militarization of the South China Sea, a vital transit route for world trade.
"Long term peace" in Chinese terms means acceding to all its demands.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Strait of Hormuz: U.S. Marines on Merchant Ships Providing Security

Reported as Marines Embark Merchant Vessel to Provide Security in Strait of Hormuz Transit:
STRAIT OF HORMUZ (NNS) -- Marines and Sailors deployed with
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tanner A. Gerst/Released)
Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team, Central Command (FASTCENT) Company, assigned to Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (TF 51/5th MEB), embarked on a Military Sealift Command time chartered vessel in the Arabian Gulf to provide security during a Strait of Hormuz transit Oct. 21.

Task Force 51/5th MEB has a myriad of inherently maneuverable assets that offer commanders the ability to flexibly respond to a wide variety of missions and contingencies, and that are capable of being rapidly deployed. Specifically, FASTCENT Marines work with U.S. partners and allies to protect personnel and property while simultaneously ensuring freedom of navigation in international waterways.

"A strong U.S. presence in the Gulf region is both a deterrent to any potential adversaries who may have an interest in disrupting the maritime domain or using the seas for nefarious purposes, as well as a force to reassure allies, and partners of the United States' commitment to ensuring the free flow of commerce throughout the region," said Brigadier Gen. Matthew Trollinger, Commander of Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Marines with FASTCENT Company have a history of performing a wide variety of missions and contingencies related to deterring, detecting, mitigating, and defending vital naval and national assets against terrorism since its activation in 1986.

"The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has and will continue to protect U.S. forces and interests in the region. This includes routine escorting and embarking on U.S. flagged vessels transiting through the region," said Vice Adm. Jim Malloy, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet.

TF 51/5th MEB is entrusted with rapidly aggregating crisis response capabilities and positioning Navy and Marine Corps forces throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to ensure command and control of forces at sea, from the sea, and ashore.

"We are focused on maintaining strong defenses and exposing nefarious actors. We are not seeking conflict, but we will be prepared to defend ourselves and respond to attacks on U.S. forces and our interests," said Malloy.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 24 September 2019 - 30 October 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 24 to 30 October 2019

U.S. Navy Office of Naval ... by lawofsea on Scribd

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: You Are There- "The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson" (1949)

About the effort to impeach:
The impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson had important political implications for the balance of federal legislative–executive power. It maintained the principle that Congress should not remove the President from office simply because its members disagreed with him over policy, style, and administration of the office. It also resulted in diminished presidential influence on public policy and overall governing power, fostering a system of governance which Woodrow Wilson referred to in the 1870s as "Congressional Government". Johnson remained the only U.S. president to have been impeached and faced a senate trial for over a century, until Bill Clinton became the second in 1998

On Midrats 3 November 2019 - Episode 513: Naval Aviation with Kevin Miller

Please join us at 5pm EST (don't forget the time change) on 3 November 2019 for Midrats Episode 513: Naval Aviation with Kevin Miller:
With the sequel to "Top Gun" coming up, if you ever wore the
uniform of the US Navy, you're going to get asked a lot of questions.

For this week's show we are going to talk about today's Naval Aviation experience with author Kevin Miller, CAPT, USN (Ret.)

Kevin is a third generation naval officer. He graduated from the University of Mississippi and was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1983. In his career he flew the A-7E Corsair II and FA-18C Hornet, deploying overseas six times throughout the 1980’s and 90’s aboard the aircraft carriers Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Enterprise. He finished his career in the Pentagon serving on the staff of the Secretary of the Navy, retiring in 2005.

After leaving the service Kevin was employed as an associate at two Washington DC defense consulting firms, and it was during this time he drafted his first novel Raven One. In 2010 he joined the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. Today he is a self-employed defense consultant, Amazon Best-Selling author of the military action-adventure novels Raven One and Declared Hostile and serves as Vice President of Legislative Affairs for the Tailhook Association.

Kevin earned a Master of Science in Business Management from Florida State University and a Master of National Security Policy and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.
Listen to "Episode 513: Naval Aviation with Kevin Miller" on Spreaker.

Monday, October 28, 2019

In the the South Pacific: China Moves on the Solomons

From the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Alan Tidwell, The Tulagi turning point
Guadalcanal and Tulagi in red circle
The New York Times reported on 16 October that the People’s Republic of China had leased the island of Tulagi from Solomon Islands. A secret deal was apparently struck in September, no doubt around the time Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ascended to his leadership role and Solomon Islands announced its switch from recognising Taipei to Beijing. Tulagi is remembered mostly as the place where the pivotal Allied campaign for Guadalcanal started in World War II. With the leasing of the island, we may well have a shift in the strategic competition in the Pacific.
The Solomons are central to the South Pacific

Long-term access to Tulagi will provide Beijing with a base for commercial or military activity. For example, it may make managing regional Chinese fishing fleets easier. Fishing, however, is the least of the worries for the West. How long will it be before Tulagi begins to take on features like those found on the faux-island bases in the South China Sea? Will China build an airfield on Tulagi? China’s J-10 fighter aircraft could use Tulagi, as they’ve done in the Paracel Islands, which arguably brings the coast of Queensland into range. (It’s worth noting, though, that while a J-10 could reach the Queensland coast, it wouldn’t have any time on target without refuelling.)

Tulagi also extends Beijing’s political influence. Cementing Chinese operations there could give China far greater reach in Solomon Islands and the Southwest Pacific. If Beijing manages the leasing agreement well, it will serve as a proof of concept for other Pacific island countries. Leasing an island may become financially very attractive to Pacific island elites. If that’s the case, then Tulagi is the thin end of the wedge. How long will be it before Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia votes for independence and pursues a similar leasing arrangement?
Chuuk is about 550 nautical miles southeast of Guam
Some of you will remember Tulagi from World War II as a small island near Guadalcanal that provides access to major shipping lanes to Australia and New Zealand from Hawaii and the mainland United States. You might note that a major Chinese base in the Solomons would be south east of the major U.S. territory of Guam, a vital site for American naval and air assets.

Japan moved into the area in area in WWII, before the U.S. halted their advances at Guadalcanal and, incidentally, Tulagi. Here's a map of the Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere,

The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere (大東亜共栄圏 Dai-tō-a Kyōeiken) was an imperial concept created and promulgated for occupied Asian populations during the first third of the Shōwa period by the government and military of the Empire of Japan. It promoted the cultural and economic unity of the East Asian race. It also declared the intention to create a self-sufficient "bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese and free of Western powers". It was announced in a radio address entitled "The International Situation and Japan's Position" by Foreign Minister Hachirō Arita on June 29, 1940.[1]

An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus — a secret document completed in 1943 for high-ranking government use — laid out the superior position of Japan in the Greater Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, showing the subordination of other nations was not forced by the war but part of explicit policy.[2] It explicitly states the superiority of the Japanese over other Asian races and provides evidence that the Sphere was inherently hierarchical, including Japan's true intention of domination over Asia
Substitute China for Japan in the above paragraphs for a look at how China seeks to dominate the Western Pacific and South China Seas. Japan had the advantage that following WWI it gained governance rights over former German territories in the Pacific, including what are now Palau, the Northern Marianas, and the Marshall Islands as part of the "South Pacific Mandate" (see here).

See also China and It's "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere":
All this being prelude to the bit Ms. Glaser points to in this innocuously titled article,
US spy planes kept eye on Chinese scientists during research expedition near Guam
Xu Kuidong, a lead researcher with the mission who is affiliated with the Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Qingdao, Shandong, said the scientists on board were “well aware” of the area’s sensitivity.

“It is all about the Second Island Chain,” he said, referring to a series of archipelagos that stretches from the eastern coast of Japan to the Bonin islands, to the Mariana islands, to Guam and the island country of Palau.

The US-controlled islands initially served as a second line of defence against communist countries in East Asia during the cold war. Today they are regarded as a major constraint on China’s rapidly expanding marine power and influence in the Pacific Ocean.
The team’s findings would be shared with the Chinese military and other interest groups in government, Xu said.
“There are many efforts going on to breach the Second Island Chain, this is part of them,” he said.
According to Tom Matelski, a US Army War College Fellow at the Daniel K. Inouye Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Hawaii, China was seeking to build a military base in Micronesia.
Micronesia, with a population of about 110,000, has received a large amount of aid and investment from China since 2003. The money helped build some of the nation’s largest farms, schools, bridges and power plants, as well as the residence for the president and other senior government officials.
Since Micronesia lacked its own military, it had “outsourced” its defence to the US since the end of the second world war. But in 2015 Micronesian lawmakers introduced a resolution to end the exclusive partnership with the US as early as 2018.

If the Chinese military got a foothold on a Micronesian island, “the US could potentially lose their access to the strategic lines of communication that connect the Pacific Ocean to the vital traffic of the East and South China Seas”, Matelski wrote in an article published on the website of The Diplomat magazine in February last year.
Possession of portions of the Second Island Chain would give China a “springboard against foreign force projection,” he said. (emphasis added)
So, China - currently through obstensibly peaceful means - seeks to do what the Japanese tried to do before the start of WWII - developing bases on trade routes, expanding their presence, developing what amounts to a clone of the Japanese Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
Last year Palau was holding out against Chinese pressure see here.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Adventures in Research "Yesterday's Secret Weapon" (1943) and "Victory in the Desert" (1943)

Science and engineering or as set out here:
Adventures in Research! This is Paul Shannon bringing you another
transcribed story of science, produced as a public service, in cooperation with the Westinghouse Research Laboratories, and today telling you the story of…”

So begins Adventures in Research, a radio show broadcast from 1942 to the mid-1950s that brought listeners into the world of researchers and inventors on the brink of discovery. Broadcast by the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company (or, Group W) in partnership with Westinghouse Research Laboratories, Adventures in Research featured dramatic reenactments of historic discoveries and inventions, complete with organ accompaniment and sound effects. At just under 15 minutes a piece, these short programs were narrated by radio host Paul Shannon and written by Westinghouse physicist Dr. Phillips Thomas, whose voice was also heard on the program for a number of years.
Here are a couple of shows from the series:

Yesterday's Secret Weapon

Victory in the Desert

Thursday, October 24, 2019

It's Always Logistics, Logistics, Logistics

U.S. Naval War College presentation U.S. Transportation Command Leader Discusses Power Projection in Great-Power Competition:
Army Gen. Stephen Lyons, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, spoke to U.S. Naval War College students on Oct. 22 about the importance of power projection as the nation faces peer competitors.

"Our ability as a nation to be able to project military power over global distances at our time and place of choosing is indeed a strategic, competitive advantage," Lyons told his audience in Spruance Auditorium.

"It presents multiple options for senior leadership, and it creates multiple dilemmas for potential adversaries," he said.

USTRANSCOM, based at Scott Air Force Base in western Illinois, has overseen air, land and sea transportation for the Department of Defense since the command was established in 1987. Its motto is "Together, We Deliver."

Lyons said the 2018 National Defense Strategy has changed the way the U.S. military thinks about strategic logistics and the nation's ability to sustain forces as they travel across oceans and between continents.

"That fundamentally shifts the way that we have to approach and think about competition and responding to a near-peer competition," Lyons said.

The challenges are only increasing, he said. The level of complexity, the demand signature and diplomatic access are all challenges to his command's ability to project power, Lyons said.(emphasis added)
Some of us have been talking about this logistics stuff for some time - and sometimes people begin to listen:
I don't know what the hell this "logistics" is that Marshall is always talking about, but I want some of it. - Admiral E. J. King
If you missed the 2018 National Defense Strategy, here's the official summary:

Sunday, October 20, 2019

On Midrats 20 October 2019 -Episode 511: Baltic Security with Dr. Sebastian Bruns

Listen in to a prerecorded Midrats Episode 511: Baltic Security with Dr. Sebastian Bruns >
From Finland to Denmark, Sweden to Poland - from small Latvia to the Continental power of Germany - the return of Russia has brought a renewed focus the last half decade to the Baltic.

Not just a SLOC, there are important economic and cultural ties that predate written history that continue to be important today.

Our guest for the full hour in a wide ranging discussion will be Dr. Sebastian Bruns.

Sebastian heads the Center for Maritime Strategy & Security (CMSS) at the Institute for Security Policy, University of Kiel (ISPK). He is the author/editor of six books, including "Routledge Handbook of Naval Strategy and Security" (edited with Joachim Krause, London 2016), and his latest, "US Naval Strategy and National Security. The Evolution of American Maritime Power" (London, 2018).
Now on Spreaker

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Before You Go See the New Top Gun Movie - Listen to these

While that looks like fun, you really ought to prep yourself by listening to this excellent sequence of shows recorded at the Tail Hook Convention in Reno this year covering the Top Gun program and how it works in reality.

One of the key elements of the program's success is the trust placed in, and the reliance on, Navy lieutenants to make it work. Excellence is not demanded, it is expected.

Great job by USNI's Ward Carroll and Bill Hamblet on these shows.

There are a lot more of these great podcasts like these over at the USNI site here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence GULF OF GUINEA/HORN OF AFRICA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 26 September to 09 October 2019

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea on Scribd

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea on Scribd

The Mess in Syria : Now, if Congress would do its job . . . even occasionally

How'd we get involved in Syria, anyway? Something about "humanitarian interventions?" Well, according to Susan Rice, President Obama's National Security Advisor, it was the "least bad option.":
When White House senior advisers gathered that Friday evening in the Oval Office, Obama began with his description of the challenge he aimed to address. We did not have a clearly valid international legal basis for our planned action, he said, but we could argue that the use of banned chemical weapons made our actions legitimate, if not technically legal. Domestically, we could invoke the president’s constitutional authority to use force under Article II, but that would trigger a 60-day clock under the War Powers Act—meaning that if our actions lasted longer than 60 days, he would need to obtain congressional approval to continue military action. Therefore, before we used any significant force in Syria to address its chemical-weapons use, the president thought it best to invest members of Congress in the decision, and through them the American people.

As usual, Obama was thinking several plays down the field—to the potential need for military action against Iran, should diplomacy fail to force that country to give up its still nascent nuclear-weapons program. Once the precedent was established that Congress should act to authorize military action in Syria, we could insist on the same kind of vote should we need to confront Iran—a much higher-risk proposition that he would want Congress to own with us.

I admired the president’s logic, but disagreed with his assumptions. As Obama polled the aides assembled in the Oval, all agreed with him. He called on me last, as he often did in my role as national security adviser.

The lone dissenter, I argued for proceeding with military action, as planned. We had clearly signaled—most recently that morning in a strong speech by Secretary of State John Kerry—that we intended to hold Syria accountable through the use of force. Our military assets were in place. The UN had been warned. Our allies were waiting. As then–Vice President Joe Biden liked to say, “Big countries don’t bluff.” Finally, I invoked the painful history of Rwanda and predicted we could long be blamed for inaction.
Well, eventually off we went to a sort of war. The sort where we lose our troops for "not technically legal" reasons. And the "War Powers Act?" It's a joke:
The 1973 law was meant to prevent presidents from sustaining wars without congressional approval. But no one thinks the lawsuit will succeed. And the War Powers Act has never been successfully employed to end any military mission.

"The War Powers resolution really does not work," says former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-IN), who co-chaired the Iraq Study Group and the 9/11 Commission.

Instead, the War Powers Act has largely been used as it's being used now — as a political tool that allows Congress to criticize a president about the prosecution of a war.
Excellent piece in Military Times by John Robinson In supporting the Kurds in Syria, US has been playing fast and loose with the law
Does it matter that not likely a living soul in the current ISIS planned, authorized, or committed the 9/11 attacks, nor aided or harbored 9/11 perpetrators? Apparently, not a wit. Does it matter that the last administration recognized the 2001 AUMF had outlived its shelf-life and offered a new one, including ISIS language, to Congress? Nope; rejected. Does it matter that a bipartisan group of senators subsequently authored a similar AUMF, to accomplish the same thing? Nope; never left the starting blocks.

We’ve been playing fast and loose with the law ever since 2003, when we connected AQI with the 9/11 perpetrators and now, the chickens have come home to roost and we don’t like it.

We partnered with the enemy-of-my-enemy in Syria to fight the son-of-a-son and we made some friends. We confused that partnership with an alliance and that partnership grew to be as strong as an alliance.

But the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs reminded everyone on Thursday that our actual ally, Turkey, had been a NATO ally for the past 70 years. On Sunday, the new secretary of defense gently corrected his Sunday news show host, when she casually referred to our YPG partners as allies. “The Kurds have been very good partners,” the secretary affirmed. There’s a difference between a 70-year ally and a regional partner, no matter how distasteful you find your ally’s actions to be or how loyal you believe your partner to be.

In 2001, the commander in chief declared, “You are either with us, or with the terrorists.” NATO invoked Article 5, which states that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all of its members, for the first time, in response to the 9/11 attacks. NATO allies, including Turkey, aided the coalition effort in Afghanistan.

What if Turkey should invoke Article 5 now, in response to what it sees as a terrorist threat? US forces are withdrawing from areas of combat in northeastern Syria now, but can we see ourselves obligated to a fight on the sides of the allied Turks, against partner Kurds?

Rather than threatening sanctions, Congress should update an AUMF they’ve been dithering on for 16 years. Better still, let Congress declare war on Turkey, on behalf of the Kurds, as Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution authorizes them to do.
Fat chance. Why would they give up the chance to point fingers and assign blame that the current situation gives them?

Laws, apparently, are for little people.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

On Midrats 13 October 2019 - Episode 510: A Half-Baked Navy with Jimmy Drennan and Blake Herzinger

Please join us at 5pm EDT on the Navy's 244th Birthday, 13 October 2019 for some fun conversation during Midrats Episode 510: A Half-Baked Navy with Jimmy Drennan and Blake Herzing
Submarine Aircraft Carrier?
Everyone has half-baked ideas ... some quarter-baked and some three-quarters-baked ... that in a just world of their making would have a funding line.

Are there some ideas so far "out of the box" that they really should be "in the box?"

Find yourself saying, "If I were CNO/emperor/Chairman of the HASC for a day, I would..."?

Have some ideas that you are convinced our Navy needs to win, but everyone else thinks is impossible/stupid/insane?

Well, that is the Navy we're going to ponder today.

With our guests Blake Herzinger and His Exalted Saltiness Jimmy Drennan, EagleOne and I this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will talk about our pet "half-baked ideas" that ... in all seriousness ... we'd like someone to at least give a serious thought to for a few seconds.
If you can't catch the show live and you use iTunes, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main show page - or you can just click here.

Navy AN-1 art liberated from H.I. Sutton's excellent Covert Shores site.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "The Navy Come Through" (1943)

 Heroics at sea.

U.S. Navy Armed Guards in action.

Finest traditions of the U.S. Navy.

Radio remake of a 1942 movie of the same name.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

PG&E Gives California a Glimpse of the Future and It's Ugly

California's power utility to cut off nearly 800,000 customers to avoid wildfire risk reports Axios
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the California power giant, said early this morning that it has begun shutting off power to almost 800,000 customers in a bid to prevent fires when strong winds arrive.

Why it matters: Via the San Francisco Chronicle, "For PG&E, the shut-offs will mark a high-stakes test of a program the now-bankrupt company developed after being implicated in two years of catastrophic infernos."

The paper calls it the company's "biggest preemptive action to avert another destructive wildfire like those which took dozens of lives and destroyed thousands of homes over the past two years."
According to the San Francisco Chronicle:
The outages could last into next week, affect more than 2 million people and, by some estimates, cost businesses and residents more than $1 billion.
So why is this happening? Well, for one thing, you have a company forced into bankruptcy by the disastrous fires of the past and the heavy costs incurred as a result. They might be a little gun shy, you think?

Further, due to the distances from some of the sources of electricity, power lines run through forested areas. If power plants were located closer to major population centers, the need for lengthy power line runs would be lessened. As you may determine from the below, however, California has only one operating nuclear power plant,
The Diablo Canyon Power Plant is an electricity-generating nuclear power plant near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California. Since the permanent shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2013, Diablo Canyon is the only operational nuclear plant left in the state.

Here's a map of the major power lines in California, with the red lines being those of PG&E:

 What is producing that electricity?
 Type of power plant:

And the amount of energy California gets from its neighbors (negative numbers means imported into California):

According to PG&E:
To protect public safety, PG&E has turned off power due to gusty winds and dry conditions combined with a heightened fire risk. Once the weather subsides and it is safe to do so, PG&E crews will begin patrolling power lines, repairing damaged equipment and restoring customers.

Outages (weather event plus restoration time) could last longer than 48 hours. For planning purposes, PG&E suggests customers prepare for outages that could last several days.
As you may recall from Forbes:
Yet, beyond power rates 45% above the U.S. average, California has another problem that makes it less of a model than some proclaim. California now imports 33% of its electricity supply from fast growing neighbors, with about 65% of that coming from the Southwest and 35% coming from the Northwest. These numbers increase most in summer months when air conditioning loads peak. Imports have been rising rapidly: in 2010, California "only" imported 25% of its power.

Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California imports because "its wholesale power markets in the region are relatively open and generation from outside the state is often less expensive." In fact, California imports about 6% of its electricity from out-of-state coal-fired power plants, with another 14% coming from "unspecified imports," of a cloudy origin that is generally attributed to hydropower, gas, nuclear, and other renewables.

Besides having the most expensive electricity west of the Mississippi River in the continental U.S., California already has the least reliable electricity. California easily leads the nation with nearly 470 power outages a year, compared to 160 for second place Texas, which is really amazing because Texas produces 125% MORE electricity! (here). California's reliability problems will be multiplied as more wind and solar enter the power mix, intermittent resources located in remote areas that cannot be so easily transported to cities via the grid. (emphasis added)
SO, you kill the most reliable,most environmentally friendly power plants - nuclear. You add in intermittent sources, the need to bring in power from outside the state, you rely on hydro power locations that are in the mountains and far from the cities, and you'll be the current mess.